Championship game of the Pete Smith Classic is underway. Two unbeaten teams.
Konawaena 54, Kalaheo 53, final
A miraculous comeback by the Wildcats, capped by Chase Takaki’s 3-pointer from the right wing with 1.2 seconds left, gives them the Pete Smith Classic title.
Jonah Bredeson played through a flu and led Konawaena with 19 points, sparking their second-half comeback. Point guard Brandon Awa added 16 points and four assists. It was impressive the way he trusted his teammates, feeding Zach Gray for a key 3-point shot to tie the game at 51-all, and then Takaki for the game-winner.
Kalaheo got 15 points, nine boards and six dimes from superb junior Kupaa Harrison. The Mustangs got a final shot attempt off in the final 1.2 seconds on a long pass from Alec Macleod to Harrison, but he never had full control of the ball and wound up with miss well short.
This could easily be a preview for a state-tournament matchup. For all its youth, Kalaheo is probably one of the four best teams in the OIA. They rain threes from most of their starting five, including their tallest guy, Harrison (who is about 6-3 now).
Konawaena plays some tough, hard-nosed man defense and they like to double team when the ball leave the point guard. That hurt them sometimes tonight with Macleod and Harrison finding open teammates for layups. But when they get steals, the Wildcats are athletic and strong. They finish at the hoop often and create a lot of contact in transition with Cameron Howes (a mini Vinnie Johnson/Microwave scorer) and Bredeson, a lefty who can finish with either hand.
Awa’s development since his freshman year is notable. He was a smooth, slender ballhandler back then. Now he’s stronger, able to take contact and finish as he did tonight with a couple of three-point plays at the rim during Konawaena’s rally.
His floor leadership is of utmost value: the Wildcats beat Mililani, St. Francis and now, Kalaheo, on the road.
I know the Mustangs are hurting tonight, but they played a strong game against a strong foe. They’re going to get better, just my guess, because this loss will force them to finish games in wiser fashion — rather than taking unnecessary long-range shots with a five-point lead, as Coach Alika Smith said after the game.
That’s two thrillers — three if we count Punahou-Kalani — in two nights. I’m getting spoiled.
Kalaheo 41, Konawaena 35, end third quarter
Wildcats finally woke up. The trailed 30-14 before going on a 14-2 run in whirlwind fashion. Jonah Brederson flew by the Mustangs in transition and scored 10 points in the third to rally the Wildcats. Kalaheo switched to 2-3 zone at the start of the quarter.
Kalaheo 25, Konawaena 12, halftime
Execution for Kalaheo? Plus plus. The Mustangs are running that patented flex offense efficiently, getting layups and open looks. They aren’t shooting lights out, but they’re getting enough to build a comfortable lead. Kupaa Harrison already has 10 points while Alec MacLeod has three assists.
Brandon Awa has five points, all on free throws, for the Wildcats. The visitors and defending BIIF champions are settling for tough shots some of the time, while Kalaheo is content only to take high-percentage shots off that flex.
It’s textbook Kalaheo basketball going back a generation to a gentleman coach known as Pete Smith.
Kalaheo 11, Konawaena 6, end first quarter
Wildcats struggling to get an open shot against Kalaheo’s man defense. A little impatience, and Kalaheo’s length is a factor. Five points for Kupaa Harrison.